Fifteen years ago, I contracted herpes in the context of a monogamous relationship. Being both open-minded and desperate, I tried drug therapy and immediately got migraine headaches for the first time in my life. It was clear that I had to find a natural way of managing the disease since I was going to have it for the rest of my life. I also needed a way to resume my sex life without dreading the likelihood of passing it on to others.
For the next two years, I tried every natural therapy available. Frustrated with the lack of consistent and lasting results from most of the touted natural remedies for herpes, however, I started developing my own treatment program, based on my family’s multi-generational background as herbalists.
Through my experience, I found that herpes must be addressed on many levels. Obviously, changes in nutrition and lifestyle were important, but the deep shame and psychological effects of the disease were equally, if not more, important to treat than the outbreaks. herpes can also change quite significantly during the course of the disease, so any protocol would have to be flexible enough to deal with the evolutionary nature of the presenting symptoms.
I also don’t believe in the validity of suppressive therapy for herpes. I think that suppression inevitably leads to the disease expressing itself in other ways – ways that may be more devastating than conventional outbreaks – so the protocol is not designed to suppress outbreaks altogether, but rather to lengthen the period of time between outbreaks and to shorten their duration and greatly lessen their severity. Some people have had their average duration of outbreaks reduced from 12 to 16 days to one to two days, and some individuals have been able to prevent most outbreaks from reoccurring altogether. The protocol does not cure the disease, nor does it stop all symptoms from appearing. Even those who have been able to stop most of their outbreaks have experienced some mild, infrequent outbreaks. For many, it is less than one per year.
After taking someone’s case, the protocol is adjusted depending on many factors including the strain of the virus; the frequency, location, and duration of outbreaks; the relative health of the client’s self-esteem and the relative level of stressors; whether the client is male or female; and the length of time with the disease. For most people, the protocol involves both internal and topical remedies; for everyone, it involves a combination therapy. I learned a great deal from studying how other natural practitioners were treating HIV, especially people who had both HIV and herpes, or who had drug-resistant HIV. In North America, many people with HIV also have herpes, and many of the same substances that are effective for HIV are also effective for herpes.
All of the substances in the protocol are derived from botanical sources, and I grow or wildcraft many of them myself. I also tincture or homeopathically prepare most of the substances. Melissa officinalis is the cornerstone of the protocol, and Lomatium dissectum and olive leaf and Prunella vulgaris are components in the remedy. The most common homeopathic remedies prescribed in the protocol are Rhus-tox, Mezereum, and Ranunculus, but there are over two dozen homeopathic remedies that I use depending on the symptom picture and another dozen or so herbal substances. Again the protocol is a combination therapy. Some of these substances are used internally, some externally.
I have been using natural remedies to help people suffering with herpes for 19 years. One of the principle natural tools used in controlling herpes has been L-lysine, an amino acid that has been proven to reduce the frequency of outbreaks in some people. Unfortunately, L-lysine has now been shown to have its own serious side effect. Since its main action is to inhibit arginine in the cellular environment, the long-term effect of taking L-lysine is the lowering of the body’s immune function, which is a less than a desirable outcome and, therefore, not part of the protocol. For the most severe cases, I refer people to a hypnotherapist, as hypnosis has been clinically proven to be very effective in the treatment of herpes, particularly when combined with other therapies.
Lastly, I counsel people to make peace with the disease, and above all else, I encourage people not to be ashamed of having herpes and to have the courage to speak about the condition. The sad fact is that there’s still a pervasive wall of shame and silence over this disease. People are much more likely to publicly declare their HIV positive status than admit to having herpes. There are numerous charities and foundations with high-profile celebrity spokespersons leading the very public campaign of AIDS awareness and research. There’s an ever-increasing amount of sympathy and support for AIDS victims from the general public. But I challenge you to name a public spokesperson for herpes. Better yet, can anyone even name one single herpes charity? I’m sure they exist, but their public profiles are next to nonexistent. Have you ever seen a telethon to raise money for herpes research? Is herpes the modern leprosy? I have worked with many herpes sufferers who do not tell their lovers of their status for fear of being rejected. I’m not sure what the answer would be to gaining more support and sympathy for the sufferers of herpes, but it’s something we could all work on.
Christopher Scipio is a homeopath/herbalist and holistic viral specialist. He hosts a holistic herpes clinic at Finlandia Natural Pharmacy every Wednesday.
To book an appointment, 604-639-7286, or email info at natropractica dotcom
For more information about Scipio’s work, visit http://www.natropractica.com
Herpes – the silent epidemic
This year, in North America alone, 800,000 people will contract genital and oral herpes (herpes 1 and 2). It is estimated that 60 percent of the population has herpes. A majority of the people with the disease are unaware that they carry the virus, increasing the likelihood that they will pass it on to others. With so many people affected by this epidemic, it is a wonder that herpes doesn’t get more media attention. It’s been labelled an incurable disease, which when left untreated can have dire consequences, such as the death of an infant born to a mother experiencing an outbreak during delivery and vastly increasing one’s chances of contracting AIDS and other opportunistic infections.
The Acyclovir family of drugs including Valtrex and Famvir, has been the long standing therapy prescribed by doctors for the treatment of herpes 1 and 2. Although the drug has proven itself to be somewhat effective in the reduction of the duration and severity of outbreaks when used topically and in the suppression of some outbreaks when taken orally, this effectiveness can come with a steep price.
Acyclovir does not cure herpes and must be taken indefinitely. Similar to many other drugs, Acyclovir has serious possible side effects, including kidney dysfunction, toxicity in the nervous system, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion and tremors, and severe headaches. Beyond these, perhaps the biggest problem with taking these drugs for herpes is the creation of drug-resistant strains of the virus that will make treating people in the future much more difficult.
This article can also be read at the common ground magazine site